May 28, 2013
Postseason Guide (.pdf)
WEST POINT, N.Y. -
The Army baseball team is set to meet nationally ranked Virginia in the NCAA Charlottesville Regional on Friday afternoon. The schools will lock horns beginning at 1 p.m., from Davenport Field on the campus of the University of Virginia.
It marks the second consecutive season that Army and Virginia are meeting in the NCAA Regionals. Last season, the Cavaliers posted a 9-1 victory in an opening-round matchup.
THE STORYLINE: For the second straight season, fifth time in 10 years, and sixth time in program history, the Army baseball team is heading to the NCAA Regionals. On Monday, it was announced that the Black Knights are going back to Virginia for the second year in a row and will meet the Cavaliers in the Charlottesville Regional on Friday. In addition to top-seeded Virginia (47-10), second-seeded UNC Wilmington (37-21) and third-seeded Elon (32-28) will join No. 4 seed Army (29-21) at the Charlottesville Regional. The Cavaliers earned one of eight coveted national seeds (sixth overall) and are hosting an NCAA Regional for the fourth year in a row. This weekend's showing at the Charlottesville Regional will mark Army's sixth trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Black Knights registered the program's first NCAA tourney appearance in 2000 after winning the Patriot League Championship. Army also earned NCAA Regional berths after capturing conference titles in 2004, 2005, 2009 and 2012. In their most recent trip to the NCAAs, the Black Knights fell to top-seeded Virginia (9-1) and second-seeded Oklahoma (2-1, 10 innings) at the Charlottesville Regional last June. By winning the school's seventh Patriot League Tournament championship overall two weeks ago, Army captured its fifth conference crown in 10 years. The winner of the Charlottesville Regional will advance to face the winner of the Starkville Regional in the NCAA Super Regionals (June 7-10). The eight Super Regional winners travel to the College World Series to be held June 15-26 at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb.
ROUNDING OUT THE REGIONAL: Virginia earned an at-large selection into the field to secure its 10th straight NCAA Regional berth. Virginia, which finished second in the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division, has won nine of its last 11 games. It marks the 13th NCAA appearance overall for the Cavaliers, who will serve as a regional host for the seventh time in 10 years (2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013). The Cavaliers advanced to the College World Series in 2009 and 2011. UNC Wilmington earned an at-large berth into the Regionals after being eliminated from the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament. UNCW won the CAA regular-season title after compiling an 18-8 mark against conference foes. It marks the sixth NCAA Regional appearance for the Seahawks since 2003. Elon won the Southern Conference Tournament to earn the league's automatic berth to the NCAA Regionals. The Phoenix edged The Citadel, 6-5, last Sunday to win the SoCon title and punch its ticket to the NCAA Regionals. Elon is heading to the NCAAs for the sixth time in its 14-year history of competing at the Division I level.
ARMY-VIRGINIA SERIES: Army and Virginia will be meeting in the NCAA Regionals for the second straight season. The Cavaliers topped the Black Knights, 9-1, in last season's Charlottesville Regional. The schools have met a total of six times previously, and the Cavaliers own a 4-1-1 advantage in the all-time series, which began in 1907.
ARMY-UNC WILMINGTON SERIES: Army has never met UNC Wilmington on the baseball diamond.
ARMY-ELON SERIES: Army and Elon have never squared off in the sport of baseball. The Phoenix are in just their 14th season competing at the Division I level.
ARMY VS. THE ACC: Army has battled six of the 12 teams that currently comprise the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Black Knights have faced three ACC schools in previous NCAA Regional action, falling to Florida State, 3-2, in 2005, defeating Boston College, 4-3, in 2009 and dropping a 9-1 decision to Virginia last season. Army's records versus ACC teams are as follows: Boston College, 2-4; Duke, 1-6; Florida State, 0-1; Maryland, 2-7; Virginia, 1-4-1; Wake Forest, 1-1.
SCOUTING VIRGINIA: Virginia earned the No. 6 national seed, and will host an NCAA Regional for the fourth straight season. The Cavaliers are a well-balanced team that boasts a .314 team batting average and 3.14 team earned run average. Brandon Downes leads UVa with 19 doubles, seven triples, nine home runs, 57 RBI and 62 runs scored. Mike Papi paces the club with a .400 batting average and .645 slugging percentage, while ranking among the team leaders with 14 doubles, six home runs and 54 RBI. Scott Silverstein (9-1, 3.07 ERA), Nick Howard (6-4, 3.38 ERA) and Brandon Waddell (5-2, 4.02) anchor the Cavaliers' starting rotation. Silverstein tops the club in wins and innings pitched (82.0), while Waddell leads the squad with 73 strikeouts. Virginia's closer is Kyle Crockett, who shows a 4-1 record to go along with a 1.81 earned run average and 10 saves. He has 61 strikeouts and just six walks in 49.2 innings pitched.
REGIONAL HISTORY: The Black Knights earned NCAA Regional bids in 2000 (Upper Montclair Regional), 2004 (Baton Rouge Regional), 2005 (Tallahassee Regional), 2009 (Austin Regional) and 2012 (Charlottesville Regional). Despite winning the Patriot League Tournament in 1997, Army did not advance to the NCAAs. The Patriot League champion did not receive an automatic NCAA berth that season. Rather, Army was forced to battle Ivy League champion Harvard in a best-of-three "Play-In" series that year. The Black Knights dropped two of three verdicts to the Crimson, losing 4-1 in the deciding game. Army is 3-10 all-time in NCAA Regional action.
DANCE CARD: This weekend's showing at the Charlottesville Regional will mark Army's sixth appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Black Knights registered their first NCAA tourney showing in school history after winning the 2000 Patriot League championship. Army dropped hard-fought decisions to host Rutgers (4-3) and eventual regional champ Penn State (3-1) that year. Army earned its second trip to the NCAA Regionals in 2004, falling to host and eventual regional champion LSU (9-0) and College of Charleston (2-1) at the Baton Rouge Regional. The Black Knights caused quite a stir at the 2005 Tallahassee Regional. After suffering a heartbreaking, late-inning 3-2 loss to host and eventual regional champion Florida State, Army registered the first NCAA Regional victory in school history, topping South Alabama 8-5. The Black Knights were eliminated by Auburn, 12-3, the following day, but not before gaining a healthy dose of respect on the national level for their efforts. Army performed even better at the 2009 Austin Regional, advancing to the finals, before falling to top-seeded Texas. Army began that regional by falling to the Longhorns, 3-1, before storming back with consecutive victories over Texas State (7-4) and Boston College (4-3). The Black Knights then led Texas, 10-6, before an eight-run ninth inning rally lifted the Longhorns past Army, 14-10. Last season, Army bowed to top-seeded Virginia (9-1), before dropping a heart-breaking 2-1 10-inning decision to second-seeded and eventual regional champ Oklahoma in an elimination game.
TOUGH OUT: While Army has captured just three of its previous 13 NCAA Regional contests, the Black Knights have been anything but an easy out in postseason play. In fact, six of Army's 10 NCAA Regional losses have been by two runs or less, including four one-run setbacks. Included in the tough losses have been two one-run defeats to hosts and top seeds (4-3 to Rutgers in 2000 and 3-2 to Florida State in 2005). Army suffered a 9-0 loss to No. 1 seed LSU in the 2004 Baton Rouge Regional, but trailed that game only 3-0 in the seventh inning. In 2009, Army dropped a pair of heart-breakers to top-seeded Texas (3-1 and 14-10). Last season, the Black Knights suffered their first extra-inning defeat at the NCAA Regionals, dropping a 2-1 decision to second-seeded Oklahoma in 10 innings at the Charlottesville Regional.
REGULAR-SEASON SUCCESS: Army has entered the Patriot League Tournament as regular-season champion seven times (1997, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012) and captured the tourney title on five of those occasions. The Black Knights, who have earned seven Patriot League tourney titles overall, defeated Bucknell for the title in 1997, Lafayette in 2004 and 2009, Lehigh in 2005 and Holy Cross in 2012. Army swept Lafayette (twice) and Lehigh in two games to claim conference tourney titles, while the three-game Army-Bucknell matchup in 1997 ranks as one of the most memorable Patriot League Championship Series in conference history. Last season, Army needed three games to dispatch Holy Cross and earn the conference's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
PL TOURNEY HISTORY: Army has appeared in the Patriot League Tournament 13 times, drawing postseason berths in 1994, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Eight of those showings took place at West Point's Doubleday Field, three at Max Bishop Stadium in Annapolis, Md., one at Class of 1978 Stadium in Easton, Pa., and one at Fitton Field in Worcester, Mass. The Black Knights captured Patriot League Tournament titles in 1997, 2000, 2004, 2005, 2009, 2012 and 2013. Army hosted the Patriot League Tournament in 1997 and defeated Bucknell in a three-game championship series en route to its first Patriot League crown. Army claimed its second Patriot League Tournament championship in 2000, winning the title as the league's No. 3 seed in Annapolis. The Black Knights garnered their third and fourth Patriot titles in 2004 and 2005, sweeping Lafayette and Lehigh, respectively, in both championship series held at Doubleday Field. Army claimed the Patriot League crown in 2009, defeating Holy Cross (2-1) in a best-of-three Patriot League Tournament Semifinal Series before sweeping two games from Lafayette in the Patriot League Championship Series. All five of those contests were played at Doubleday Field. In 2010, top-seeded Army was upset by fourth-seeded Bucknell, 2-1, in a best-of-three semifinal series at West Point. In 2011, second-seeded Army swept third-seeded Lafayette in the semifinals at West Point before falling to top-seeded Navy (2-1) in the Patriot League Championship Series at Max Bishop Stadium in Annapolis, Md. Last season, top-seeded Army swept fourth-seeded Lafayette in the semifinals and edged second-seeded Holy Cross (2-1) in the PLCS at Doubleday Field. This spring, third-seeded Army went on the road and became the first conference school to sweep both rounds of the tournament (since the current format was established in 2008) by upsetting second-seeded Navy and top-seeded Holy Cross.The Black Knights stand at 27-14 all-time in Patriot League Tournament play and 18-7 in tourney games played at West Point.
FIVE IN TEN: Head coach Joe Sottolano has clearly defined his Army team as the Patriot League's most dominant club over the past decade. By earning the school's seventh Patriot League championship overall two weeks ago, Army captured its fifth conference crown in 10 years. The Black Knights have garnered at least a share of six regular-season Patriot League titles in the past 10 years and earned Patriot League Tournament berths nine times during that span. They have clearly become the class of the conference.
TOURNEY TOUGH: In addition to garnering seven regular-season Patriot League titles and seven Patriot League Tournament crowns, Army boasts the highest winning percentage of any conference school in Patriot League Tournament play. The Black Knights have prevailed in 27 of their 41 conference tournament tilts for a .659 winning percentage. Army is the only school to feature a winning percentage higher than .531 in Patriot League tourney play. The Black Knights also sport the lowest total of losses (14) of any league team with at least 10 conference tourney appearances. The Black Knights have won seven conference crowns in their 10 trips to the Patriot League Championship Series, including the last two years.
TWICE AS NICE: By defeating Holy Cross in the Patriot League Championship Series, Army became the first conference school to win consecutive Patriot League tournament titles since the Black Knights captured back-to-back crowns in 2004 and 2005.
SEVENTH HEAVEN: Army collected its seventh Patriot League Tournament title two weeks ago when the third-seeded Black Knights swept aside top-seeded Holy Cross at Fitton Field in Worcester, Mass. After winning back-to-back league crowns, Army now owns more conference tournament titles than any other Patriot League school.
SWEEPING THROUGH THE TOURNEY: Third-seeded Army swept second-seeded Navy and top-seeded Holy Cross en route to its seventh Patriot League Tournament crown. The Black Knights became the first conference school to author a perfect 4-0 mark in the Patriot League Tournament since the conference adopted its current postseason format in 2008.
NOTEWORTHY SWEEP: Army's sweep of Holy Cross in the Patriot League Championship Series on May 19 marked the first sweep in the PLCS since the Black Knights accomplished the feat against Lafayette in 2009 en route to a berth in the NCAA Austin Regional. Army never trailed in either game on its way to a second consecutive Patriot League title.
TRENDING UP: Army enters this weekend's Charlottesville Regional on a hot streak as the Black Knights have won eight consecutive games and 18 of 23 contests. Army was 11-16 after splitting a four-game series with Patriot League rival Lehigh before reeling off its 18-5 mark to stand at 29-21 on the season. The Black Knights' current eight-game win streak marks the longest stretch of consecutive victories for the Army program since reeling off nine in a row last April.
TWO GREAT YEARS: Army has won 70 games over the past two seasons, marking the second most productive stretch in program history. The Black Knights combined to win 76 games in 2004 and 2005, the last time that Army went to consecutive NCAA Regionals.
MAY DAY: Army has authored a perfect 8-0 record during the month of May. The Black Knights will look to make it 9-for-9 during May with a victory against Virginia on Friday in the first round of the Charlottesville Regional. Army has improved its winning percentage every month this season, going 0-7 in February, 7-9 in March, 14-8 in April and 8-0 in May.
WE'RE GOING STREAKING: Army junior 1B Patrick Mescher carries a seven-game hitting streak into Friday's game versus Virginia. Sophomore INF Harold Earls, meanwhile, has reached base safely in nine consecutive games.
ROWLEY STREAKS INTO NCAAS: Army senior RHP Chris Rowley, who has been dominant over the past two months, has won seven straight starts. The Black Knights' ace has not suffered a defeat since taking the loss in Army's 7-1 setback to Navy on March 31. Rowley has allowed just 11 earned runs in 54.0 innings during his recent run of success.
ROWLEY EARNS MVP HONORS: Army senior RHP Chris Rowley was named Most Valuable Player of the Patriot League Tournament after tossing a pair of complete games. Rowley allowed just two runs on five hits in Army's 4-2 victory at Navy in the Black Knights' tourney debut, before permitting four runs on 11 hits in a 9-4 win at Holy Cross in Game 1 of the Patriot League Championship Series. The durable Rowley threw a total of 272 pitches during the Patriot League Tournament, including 148 versus Holy Cross in his most recent outing.
SWEEPING THE WEEKLY AWARDS: Army swept the Patriot League's weekly awards on May 6 after posting non-conference victories against NYIT, Hartford, Nyack and Chestnut Hill. Patrick Mescher was named the Player of the Week, Jacob Page was tabbed the Rookie of the Week and Chris Rowley collected Pitcher of the Week honors.
ROCKIN' ROOKIE: Freshman OF Jacob Page became the first Army player to earn one of the Patriot League's weekly awards this season on March 11 when he was selected as the conference's Rookie of the Week. Page batted .556 with four RBI and five runs scored to help Army to a three-game sweep of Yale (March 9-10) in Tampa, Fla. He was named the conference's Rookie of the Week a second time on May 6 after batting .538 with four RBI as Army posted a perfect 4-0 week against NYIT, Hartford, Nyack and Chestnut Hill. Page, who earned a spot on the all-conference second team, leads Army with four triples, three home runs and a .459 slugging percentage. He also lists second on the club with eight doubles, while listing third with a .314 batting average and 11 stolen bases.
CRUCITTI IS CRUISING: Junior OF Jon Crucitti returned to the Army baseball program after missing the entire 2012 season recovering from an injury he suffered on the football field. The two-sport standout has excelled as one of the Black Knights' starting outfielders this season and enters this weekend's action leading the Black Knights in on-base percentage (.440), stolen bases (16), walks and runs scored (43).
ROWLEY TURNS IT AROUND: Senior RHP Chris Rowley has regained the form that made him a three-time All-American last spring, putting up terrific numbers over his last 11 appearances. Rowley allowed eight earned runs in dropping his first two starts of the season, but has permitted just 19 earned runs over his last 11 starts to lower his ERA from 8.31 to 2.68. He has posted 69 strikeouts in 82.0 innings in his 11 most recent outings after fanning just three in 8.2 innings during his first two starts. Rowley, who was named to the all-conference first team, enters this weekend's action leading the Patriot League in ERA (2.68), victories (nine), strikeouts (72) and innings pitched (90.2). His last loss dates back to late March, and he has won seven consecutive starts.
RECORD-SETTING ROWLEY: Senior RHP Chris Rowley has pitched two complete-game shutouts this season to move into first place on Army's all-time list with eight career blankings. He fired a four-hitter against Bucknell on April 20 to break the record that he shared with former Army standout Nick Hill (USMA '07).
TWO-YEAR DOMINANCE: Senior RHP Chris Rowley has authored a 20-4 record with a 2.54 earned run average and seven shutouts over the past two seasons. He established a single-season Army record with 11 victories as a junior last year, posting an 11-1 mark and 2.40 earned run average. The talented righty also set Academy single-season records for innings pitched (97.2) and shutouts (five) in 2012. This season, Rowley boasts a 9-3 record to go along with a 2.68 earned run average and two shutouts. He was named Patriot League Pitcher of the Year in 2012 and was named to the All-Patriot League first team both years.
ROWLEY CLIMBS THE CHARTS: Senior RHP Chris Rowley continues to climb a number of Army all-time lists, and currently ranks second in innings pitched (270.0), third in career victories (25), fourth in career strikeouts (213) and fifth in winning percentage (.758; 25-8).
ROBINETT LOOKS SHARP: Sophomore RHP Alex Robinett (7-3, 2.96 ERA) has continued to improve during his second season at West Point. The right-hander ranks second in the conference in ERA, victories and opponents' batting average (.239), while listing third in innings pitched (85.0) and sixth in strikeouts (61). Robinett's career earned run average (2.88) currently ranks 10th all-time at West Point.
MESCHER MASHES: Junior 1B Patrick Mescher had some big shoes to step into following the graduation of All-American Kevin McKague at first base. The physically imposing Mescher has been up to the task, however, leading Army and ranking second in the Patriot League with a .345 batting average. Mescher also leads Army with 40 RBI, while listing second with a .429 on-base percentage.
JENSEN DOES IT ALL: Sophomore INF Alex Jensen has done just about everything offensively for Army this season. The second-year shortstop, who was named to the all-conference first team, ranks among the Patriot League leaders in RBI (38), runs scored (40) and hits (55).
CARROLL SAVES THE DAY: Junior RHP Gunnar Carroll leads Army and ranks tied for second in the Patriot League with four saves this season. For his career, Carroll lists third on the Academy's all-time saves list (14). His eight saves last season rank third on Army's single-season ledger.
FIVE ON THE ALL-LEAGUE TEAM: Army placed five players on the All-Patriot League Team this season as Chris Rowley (SP) and Alex Jensen (SS) were named to the first unit and Alex Robinett (SP), Jacob Page (OF) and Mark McCants (DH) were selected to the second team. The Black Knights had five first-team honorees last season as Rowley (SP), J.T. Watkins (C), Kevin McKague (1B), Zach Price (2B) and McCants (DH) were selected to the first unit. Logan Lee (SP) and Cody Murtle (OF) also collected second-team laurels in 2012. The Black Knights collected a conference-record seven first-team selections during the 2009 campaign. Army has earned 123 All-Patriot League certificates since 1993, averaging nearly six per season.
YANKEES VISIT WEST POINT: The New York Yankees returned to West Point for the first time since 1976 on March 30, when the Bronx Bombers concluded their spring training schedule by playing an exhibition game against Army. The Yankees enjoyed a 90-minute tour of West Point's historic campus during the morning, ate lunch in the mess hall and then played a full nine-inning game versus the Black Knights. More than 6,000 spectators flocked to West Point as temporary bleachers were constructed just outside of Johnson Stadium. The Yankees posted a 10-5 win, though Army did rough up Boone Logan for four runs on four hits in the bottom of the third inning to pull within 5-4.
PATRIOT LEAGUE STARS RETURN: Senior RHP Chris Rowley and sophomore DH Mark McCants lead Army's crop of 16 returning letterwinners. Rowley and McCants both copped All-Patriot League honors last season as both were named to the first team. Rowley was also tabbed the Patriot League Pitcher of the Year. Sophomore Harold Earls, last season's Patriot League Rookie of the Year, is also back in the fold for 2013.
YOUNGSTERS ABOUND: Army's 2013 roster includes 14 freshmen and 10 sophomores. Most of those 24 underclassmen have played key roles throughout the season. In fact, three sophomores Harold Earls, Alex Jensen and Mark McCants) and two freshmen Jacob Page and Grant Van Orden) have established themselves as regular starters in 2013. Sophomore Alex Robinett and freshman Brock Davidson emerged as two of Army's most consistent starting pitchers this season.
ROWLEY EARNS PRESEASON HONORS: Army senior RHP Chris Rowley was named a Preseason All-American by three different organizations this past winter. Rowley was cited by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (first team), Collegiate Baseball Magazine (second team) and College Sports Madness (second team). The talented right-hander is coming off a 2012 season that saw him establish Army single-season records for wins (11), shutouts (five), consecutive scoreless innings (29) and innings pitched (97.1).
PICKING UP VOTES: Army began this season where it ended last year as one of the elite programs from across the country receiving votes in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) poll. The Black Knights went 41-15 a season ago en route to their sixth Patriot League tournament title and fifth NCAA Regional appearance.
SUMMER LOVIN': Five members of the 2013 Black Knights team played in various leagues across the country last summer in an effort to prepare for this season. Seniors Chris Rowley (Peninsula Pilots) and Andrew Johnson (Will County Cracker Jacks), juniors Nick Dignacco (Torrington Titans) and Gunnar Carroll (Peninsula Pilots), and sophomore Dakari Cooke (Peninsula Pilots) all used a portion of their summer leave to suit up and sharpen their skills in wood bat leagues.
ACADEMIC HONORS: Army excelled in the classroom last spring as six members of the team were named to the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll. Zach Price, who was tabbed Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year, led the way for the Black Knights. Dakari Cooke, Taylor Goucher, Logan Lee, Connor Love and Patrick Mescher rounded out Army's six-man contingent. Mescher was selected to the Academic All-Patriot League Team this season as the junior first baseman boasts a 3.546 GPA and ranks second in the Patriot League with a .345 batting average.
LEADERS AMONG LEADERS: Senior Andrew Johnson and junior Gunnar Carroll share the team's captaincy this season. Johnson has stepped into the starting role behind the plate in 2013 following the graduation of four-year standout catcher J.T. Watkins. Carroll, who has appeared in more games as a reliever than any other Black Knight hurler each of the past three seasons, has continued to serve as one of Army's most reliable arms out of the bullpen in 2013.
CAROLINA ON MY MIND: For the fifth consecutive season, the Army baseball team opened the year in North Carolina as the Black Knights traveled to Greensboro to face the UNCG Spartans. Army began its 2012 slate at High Point, while the Black Knights lifted the lid on their 2011 and 2009 campaigns at Davidson. The 2010 squad began the season with back-to-back series at Wake Forest and UNCG.
CATCHER'S CORNER: Senior Andrew Johnson is authoring a blog entitled "Catcher's Corner" throughout the 2013 season. The blog entries appear each week on Army's official website (www.goARMYsports.com).
ARMY PICKED TO WIN PATRIOT LEAGUE: Army, the defending conference champion, was picked first in the Patriot League's preseason poll. The Black Knights garnered five first-place votes and 45 points to tie with Holy Cross atop the list, which was compiled by a vote of the league's head coaches and sports information directors. Navy, Bucknell, Lafayette and Lehigh rounded out the poll. The co-favorites met on the field two weeks ago, and the Black Knights prevailed to capture their seventh Patriot League championship.
MORE PRESEASON ACCOLADES: Senior starting pitcher Chris Rowley was named the Patriot League Preseason Pitcher of the Year, and earned a spot on the inaugural Preseason All-Patriot League Team. He was joined on that unit by sophomore designated hitter Mark McCants. Both players were placed on the All-Patriot League first team following the 2012 campaign, and each collected all-conference honors again this spring.
UNMATCHED SUCCESS: With 29 victories this season, the Black Knights have continued the most successful streak in school history. Army has won 20 games each of the past 10 years and 25 games in nine of the last 10 seasons. Army has reached the 30-victory plateau five times in the last 10 years and has qualified for the Patriot League Tournament nine times during that span. The Black Knights have won five conference tournament championships and garnered at least a share of six regular-season conference crowns in the last 10 years. Army needs one more victory to reach the 30-win plateau for the sixth time since 2004.
WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS: Army has claimed at least a share of the Patriot League regular-season championship in six of the last 10 years. The Black Knights ran away with the regular-season title last year, and came up just short in their bid to claim their fifth regular-season crown in six years this spring. The Black Knights have won five conference tournament titles over the past 10 years, advancing to the NCAA Regionals each season.
CONSISTENCY IS KEY: Prior to 2004, Army had not registered more than 26 wins in any season. With a combined record of 76-29 (.724) in 2004 and 2005, the Black Knights completed the most successful back-to-back campaigns in school history. After posting 37 victories in 2004 (37-15), Army surpassed the total with 39 wins the following year (39-14). The Black Knights also registered the first NCAA Tournament win in school history, defeating South Alabama 8-5 in the 2005 Tallahassee Regional. The Black Knights finished 30-20-1 in 2006, 25-23-1 in 2007, 25-25 in 2008, 36-21 in 2009, 28-17 in 2010 and 22-26 in 2011. After finishing 41-15 last season, Army has reached the 30-win plateau five times in the past 10 seasons, while reaching the 25-win mark in nine of those 10 years. The Black Knights have registered at least 20 wins 12 times in 14 years under the direction of head coach Joe Sottolano and 30 wins on five occasions. Army secured its 10th straight 20-win season when the Black Knights defeated Marist, 10-3, in the WRWD Hudson Valley Baseball Classic. Army's 4-1 victory over Chestnut Hill delivered the Black Knights their ninth 25-win season under Sottolano. The Black Knights need just one victory this weekend to post their sixth 30-win season in the last 10 years.
FIELD GENERAL: Army head coach Joe Sottolano is in his 14th season guiding the Black Knights' baseball program. Sottolano was named Army's interim head coach in March 2000, then had the interim label removed after leading the Black Knights to the Patriot League championship and accompanying NCAA berth that season. He had served as an assistant to Dan Roberts at Army for eight years prior to garnering the top job. Named Patriot League Coach of the Year in 2004 and 2005 after directing the Black Knights to consecutive league titles, Sottolano stands as Army's all-time winningest coach with a career record of 391-284-5. Sottolano added a third Patriot League Coach of the Year award to his resume after guiding Army to a school-record 41 wins in 2012. He has presided over a stretch of unprecedented success at the Academy the past decade, leading the Black Knights to at least 25 victories in nine of the last 10 seasons and helping Army to an impressive 312-197-2 (.613) mark during that stretch.
BIG HONOR: Army baseball coach Joe Sottolano added to his long list of honors in 2009 when he was named the ABCA/Diamond Sports Company NCAA Division I Regional Coach of the Year. Sottolano led the Black Knights to one of their most successful seasons in history, guiding Army to the finals of the Austin Regional. It marked the first time the Black Knights reached a regional final.
DOUBLEDAY DOMINANCE: Army has experienced a great deal of success at Doubleday Field the past 10 years, posting an impressive 156-58-2 record on its home field during that time. That translates into a gaudy winning percentage of .727. The Black Knights went 21-2 on their home field in 2004, establishing the single-season school record for winning percentage (.913) at Doubleday Field. Army captured 19 of 23 West Point tilts in 2005 for a winning percentage of .826. After finishing 12-10-1 (.543) at home in 2006, the Black Knights went 12-6-1 (.658) before the Doubleday faithful in 2007, 13-9 (.591) in 2008, 19-6 (.760) in 2009, 15-5 (.750) in 2010 and finished 11-5 (.688) on their home field in 2011. Last season, Army posted a school-record 24 home wins, going 24-3 for a .889 winning percentage. Army played 18 regular-season home games this season, going 10-8. The Black Knights won their final four home games to clinch another winning season.
SINKING THE MIDS: Although Army's nine-year streak of winning the "star" against Navy came to a close earlier this year, the Black Knights still own a dominating 34-12 record against their arch-rivals over the past 10 years. Army continued its dominance of Navy three weeks ago, sweeping the favored Midshipmen out of the Patriot League Tournament. During Army's 10-year run against Navy, the Black Knights registered their first four-game sweep of Navy in 2005, its first two four-game sweeps in Annapolis (2008, 2012), and captured three of four regular-season series pairings in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010, while ending the Mids' season in the Patriot League tourney in 2007 and 2013.
HUDSON VALLEY BASEBALL CLASSIC: The eighth annual WRWD Hudson Valley Baseball Classic was played on April 24 at Dutchess Stadium in Fishkill, N.Y. Thanks to a cooperative effort between the Hudson Valley Renegades, Army and Marist College, the event has drawn a total of more than 18,500 fans through its first eight editions. The HVBC garnered a record crowd of 2,619 for its debut in 2006. That stood as the largest crowd to ever witness a college baseball game in the Hudson Valley before an enthusiastic throng of 3,016 filled the Renegades home park for the second WPDH Hudson Valley Baseball Classic in 2007. The highly popular event has drawn no fewer than 1,602 fans since its inception in 2006. This year's game attracted 2,512 spectators.
MAJOR AWARDS: For the eighth time in the last nine years, an Army player received one of the Patriot League's four major awards as the Black Knights swept the conference's top honors last season. Kevin McKague (Player of the Year), Chris Rowley (Pitcher of the Year), Harold Earls (Rookie of the Year) and Joe Sottolano (Coach of the Year) were all honored by the Patriot League after rolling to an 18-2 conference record. Five Army players, including current sophomore Harold Earls (2012) have won the Patriot League Rookie of the Year award, an honor that was instituted in 2002. With Rowley's Pitcher of the Year selection in 2012, an Army player has won that award a league-leading nine times. Army has won Scholar-Athlete of the Year plaudits eight times, while five former Black Knights have been named Patriot League Player of the Year.
ROAD TO OMAHA: The winner of the Charlottesville Regional will advance to face the winner of the Starkville (Miss.) Regional in an NCAA Super Regional. Top-seeded Mississippi State (43-17) will host the Charlottesville Regional, which includes No. 2 seed South Alabama (42-18), No. 3 seed Mercer (43-16) and No. 4 seed Central Arkansas (39-20). The eight Super Regional winners travel to the College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb., to be held June 15-26.